Sylvain Joly / Emilie Tappolet
IDNA – Spatial storytelling
HEAD - Geneva (University of art and design - Geneva), apelab
IDNA – Spatial storytelling
We found the project to be a very clever way of navigating stories that make it feel like it is bringing the story into your space. It offers the user the chance to radically change the nature of a story based on where they are in time and place. This is not a storytelling medium for the every day; it is a storytelling medium that requires wonderful and engaging visual stories.
IDNA – Spatial storytelling
DNA is the first animation film deployed on our spatial storytelling system for tablets. Each scene is designed on 360 degrees, so that you can explore it whenever you want through the story. This is done simply by turning the tablet around you. The story has branches: according to the user’s focus on certain angles or characters, the film may take a different path. The idea is to bring the viewer to follow the story according to its sensitivity and its affects to a particular character or a particular event.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
We were asking ourselves how we could approach the functionalities of the smartphones and tablets and use them as narrative tools. Of course, we looked at various forms of motion comics and other digital storytelling; our main objective was to design the interactive part of our project not as a gimmick or just a « bonus », but as the very essence of the way our stories would be told. The difficulty was to ally the idea of a film and interactivity without it becoming a game. We chose to use the device’s gyroscope and began building each scene of our story as a panorama which the viewer could explore, in a similar way as the ancient gigantic panorama paintings where the spectators were placed in the middle of an historical event, as a kind of witness. The spectator is a witness, as would one be watching a film. He is not a character, or an avatar. Then we had to think about what cinematic language it implied: the narrative, the framing, the dramatic knots are all carefully orchestrated to be a physical experience itself and not just simple camera movement. Every frame has a purpose. The viewer can discover elements of the story he had not been aware of by focusing his attention on a different character or frame at precise moments in the film. The use of 3D sound was also a way to make the experience compelling.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Everything is based on the fact that you will not be able to see everything. This is what makes it exciting as a replay-value, and we decided to pursue with this notion. For example, you would see an intriguing character walking and you would then watch him and hear his thoughts. Then, somebody else behind you is starting a fight. You see the first character looking right behind you thus giving you the reflex to turn around and see what is going on. The two characters would then engage on a crazy pursuit. Depending on the character(s) you look at, the story will follow different paths or points of view, without the user actually knowing it. This concept is really built on the idea that we are spectators, thus we can not choose deliberately, actively. But our focus determine different points of view, different paths on the same story. Thus there are no pauses, or physical interface to make the choices. You watch the movie depending on your own affect and sensibility, following the characters or elements you are drawn towards and at the end, you will realise that you have only seen a fraction of the whole story, enabling you to watch it again and again. Narrative branches separate themselves, regroup at some strategic points and seperate again. If you are willing to discover the whole story you can explore this story world for a long time.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
We looked at everything interactive and telling a story on tablets and smartphones, analyzed what worked and what didn't and then we questioned this idea that if there is interactivity it has to be some sort of game or fun little thing to move as in most digital childrens books.
We thought about 360 which is a feature that has become natural in video games but not in film. There are IMAX and big screen but nowhere you can actually choose where to look or which action to focus on.
We decided to play with this an reinvent a new language, new types of framing and new way of telling a story only through the viewers point of view. How could we make this exiting and an exploration.
Then we had to work on the 360 itself. Not only could it not just be a simple 360 video, it had to look perfect, without any deformation. We tried various illusions technics, to draw with a 360 perspective and as we wanted all of the elements of the animation to be potentialy interactive we had to draw them all separately and fake the perspective. A lot of research has been done to figure out how to make the image the most imersive possible. Designing 3D sound was also a challenge to make it really perfect.
The we passed to the testing fase. Putting the app into the hands of the most people possible. We realized what worked and what did not very quickly. Like the film should not be too long but the immersiveness of the whole thing impressed most of our testers which did not stop the app until the end of the film.
Regarding stakeholders, we are trying to work with swiss organisations to help us finance what would be the first season of a 12 episode of this 360 story. Crowdfunding is also in preperation.
The value if this project is that it is the first one of it's kind. 360 has been there for a long time but imagine an animation film that really plays with what the viewer is watching on a tablet has not been done before and we hope it will bring a lot of exitement for great stories in the future